Sometimes the best remedy for a team playing poor defense is to face a team with even a worse offense.
The Thunder's get-well card came in the Chicago Bulls and the end result was a 102-72 feel-good victory Sunday night before another sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Chicago entered the game ranked 28th in scoring (92.9); 25th in 3-point percentage (.343) and 23rd in field-goal percentage (43.9 percent), and all three shortcomings were on full display against OKC.
The Bulls shot 44.4 percent in the fourth quarter to finish at 29.1 percent (25 for 86) for the game, which was still bad enough to be the lowest field-goal percentage ever shot against the Thunder.
OKC coach Scott Brooks hasn't hidden his frustration with his team's inconsistent defense the past month or so, during which OKC went 8-7 in its previous 15 games.
Sunday's question became: Was it good defense or a lousy offense that resulted in the horrid shooting percentages?
“Obviously, holding a team to 29-percent shooting says a lot about the commitment we had on that end of the floor,” Brooks said. “You know, I thought they did miss some shots, but I thought we made them miss a lot of shots. I'm not going to give all the credit to us, but we did play hard on the floor. We did make them miss a lot of shots, and they did have an off shooting night.
“Defensively tonight, there were no complaints.”
In building a 26-point deficit through the first three quarters Sunday, the Bulls shot 25.0 percent from the field, 21.4 percent from 3-point range and managed just 54 points.
“I thought we took the wrong shots,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said afterward. “We were quick shooting the ball and we didn't get the ball moving side to side. … Against good teams, you've got to get to the second and third options.”
Nothing but reserves played for both teams the entire fourth quarter. For the final 5:35, the Thunder went with the Tulsa 66ers lineup of Reggie Jackson, DeAndre Liggins, Perry Jones III, Jeremy Lamb and Daniel Orton, who all have spent time this season in the Developmental League.
OKC led 46-27 late in the second quarter before a 9-0 Bulls run pulled them to within 46-36. Chicago would trail by double-digits the remainder of the nationally televised contest on ESPN.
The Thunder is the NBA's highest scoring team (106.7) and faced the Bulls, who rank third in points allowed (91.1).
OKC also struggled from the floor, shooting 45.6 percent from the floor (36 for 79).
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 23 points and 10 for 17 from the field.
Kevin Durant finished with 19 points and six assists, but shot just 6 for 17 from the field and had to make his last two attempts to get there. He also had 16 rebounds, two shy of his career high.
Though he shot just 3 for 13 from the field in the first half, Durant still managed a first-half double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. It was the third time this season Durant has recorded a double-double by halftime. Before this season, Durant only had one double-double before halftime.
Teammate Serge Ibaka had 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. Thabo Sefolosha added 11 points and Lamb scored nine, all in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder next plays New Orleans at 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Peake.